China’s largest search engine owner, Baidu Inc. confirmed earlier rumors and said it decided to buy a stake in San Francisco-based Uber Technologies Inc. in order to tackle the growing competition in China’s car-booking segment.
With many controversies and facing increased legal scrutiny across the world, US-based Uber continues to take the car-sharing market by storm, as the company succeeded in attracting numerous funds – $2.5 billion since2009 – from investors now valuing the service provider at $40 billion, above many traditional global automakers. The two companies declined to provide specific details on the value or size of the stake Baidu took in Uber – but they did acknowledge that the latter’s services would be linked to Baidu’s map and mobile-search features.
Uber started its expansion in the world’s largest auto market back in July and so far provides services in nine cities – with a planned expansion five more as a short-term goal. Meanwhile, Baidu’s mobile search service – the Chinese alternative to Google – has at least 500 million monthly active users and the Baidu Map feature has 240 million. Its largest local competitors are startups such as Hangzhou Kuaidi Technology and Didi Taxi, supported by Alibaba and Tencent Holdings, China’s biggest Internet businesses.